The Young C.L.R. James in

By Christina Vortia
April 2nd, 2018

I truly appreciated this stylistically illustrated graphic novelette. I appreciated that I was able to learn about a historical figure and a pivotal moment in black history that I knew nothing about. This 48 page graphic biography packs a wealth of information that carries heavy themes of black empowerment, afro-caribbean literary history, and jazz history. I had never heard of CLR James before reading this novelette, I have since sought  out all of the author’s work, and am working to correct this ignorance.

CLR James, born in 1901, came of age in the British governance of Trinidad. Though racism and colorism were a fixture of James’, he rebelled against the middle class respectability politics of his parents and embraced “the culture and passions of the colonial underclass, Carnival and cricket”. He wholly rejected the idea that blacks were inferior to whites, and used his love of literature to write a different narrative than the one given to him. Blending his knowledge of European literature with his deep admiration of working class Trinidad, James was able to tell distinct stories in a way that hadn’t been seen before. His classic Minty Alley is a fixture in Caribbean literary canon.

The artwork, black and white line drawings, convey the story well, even if at times it is hard to distinguish who is who. The illustrations provide enough action and understanding to add a deeper layer of meaning that coincides with the text. This book is a wonderful introduction to an great literary hero.

Recommendation: Read it! This is a great addition to any collection.

Audience: Everyone

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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